The last four protesters occupying Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge turned themselves in to federal law enforcement on Thursday, NBC reports, bringing to an end the 40-day occupation of the refuge by an armed militia against federal land usage.
Sean Anderson, 48, had said on Wednesday that he and his three comrades would lay down their weapons Thursday at 8 a.m. and go to a nearby FBI checkpoint in the morning, the Associated Press reported. Anderson, his wife Sandy Anderson, David Fry and Jeff Banta were taken in without incident.
Fry was the last holdout to surrender around 2 p.m. on Thursday, following FBI negotiations. “Unless my grievances are heard, I will not come out,” he had said over a livestream of those negotiations.
Authorities had moved in to end the long-running standoff at the wildlife park in Oregon Wednesday evening, surrounding the remaining militia members still occupying the sanctuary.
The FBI said in a statement that it had blocked off the area where armed supporters of Ammon Bundy — the now incarcerated leader of the occupation — continued to hold out, setting up barricades with agents on either side of the militia campsite.
The Oregonian also reported that Cliven Bundy, the father of Ammon Bundy and leader of a 2014 standoff with federal officers in Nevada, was arrested in Portland on charges related to that standoff. According to the paper, the elder Bundy had planned to travel to the location of the occupation.
Federal prosecutors announced that nine more people from six states would be charged in connection with the occupation, bringing the total number of people charged to 25.
The four occupiers had previously said they would only leave if they were not convicted of anything, the Guardian reported. Following his arrest last month, Bundy appealed to his comrades to end the occupation after their spokesman Robert Finicum was killed by police.
His subsequent plea for elected representatives from Oregon or its neighboring states to intervene appears to have been heeded.
Greg Bretzing, FBI special agent in Oregon, was quoted in the bureau’s statement as saying that the FBI never desired to employ “any way other than through dialogue” to engage the militants. “However, we reached a point where it became necessary to take action in a way that best ensured the safety of those on the refuge, the law-enforcement officers who are on scene, and the people of Harney County who live and work in this area,” he added.
Fry, Banta and the Anderson couple, like the 12 others (including Bundy) that have already been arrested, face charges of conspiracy and threatening federal government employees that could result in up to six years in prison.